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Is it possible to actively prevent or fix/heal flatfoot by means of exercises (stretching, muscle strengthening etc.)?

Passive prevention or fixing would mean f.x. arch supports / orthopedic insoles - which is not what I am referring to.

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Having had flat feet for as long as I can remember, I've done quite a bit of research and tried a lot of things regarding collapsed arches. You'll find no shortage of people claiming they can fix flat feet if you buy their program or you can reverse it by using various exercises. Plenty of barefoot running websites that claim running barefoot will fix flat feet.

First you have to look at the cause of flat feet. There's nothing that can be done if you are genetically predisposed to have flat feet (without something drastic like surgery). Saying you can fix genetics is like saying hanging upside down will make you taller by elongating your spine, ribs, and core muscles. The bones and tendons are set in their ways. You'll just have to live with that.

It's also possible to get flat feet from weak tendons or being morbidly obese. This is where you'll start getting a lot of mixed answers on whether or not this is reversible. Most of the more medically orientated sites and podiatrists that I've talked to seem to think that collapsed arches are not reversible once they occur, so I'm going to go with that answer.

Now, that isn't to say that stretching exercises are useless. They won't fix flat feet or increase the arch, but they will most certainly strengthen the tendons and muscles around the foot and ankle. Stronger feet leads to less pain and injury.

Anecdotal side note, I would refrain from trying barefoot running for strengthening feet. It's included in the answer because there are claims everywhere that it's the cure-all for collapsed arches. There is just absolutely no shock absorption with flat feet, so the full force of the impact of each stroke goes straight up your leg. Barefoot, or minimal-support walking though may have some benefit since the impact is considerably less.

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